While he recognizes that the action will mean “serious hardship for many people,” Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said on Friday the city is proceeding with its plan to shutter all restaurant table service as it continues the fight against coronavirus.
And while Stewart said this decision was made with the goal of “keeping people safe,” he recognized “this new reality we are all experiencing will have significant economic impacts.”
Beyond just the impact the move will have on businesses, Stewart also spoke about the trickle-down effect of workers being laid off as a result.
And it’s for this reason that he said the city is “looking at all options to provide immediate and medium-term local response and government advocacy.”
As part of this process, Stewart said the city is calling on the provincial government “to immediately ban evictions in the city and to provide their own rental assistance” for those unable to pay the rent as a result of business closures.
He noted that there is now “significant help from the federal level, and so perhaps those can be combined.”
For its part, the city does have “a small rent bank for people that are in the most need, which offerers no- or low-interest loans,” said Kennedy.
However, that service is “completely overwhelmed at this point,” he added. “At this point, it’s beyond our physical capacity to offer much in the way of rental assistance.”
This, he explained, “must come from the province and will be part of our demands.”
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The City of Vancouver officially declared a local state of emergency as a result of coronavirus on March 19.
The declaration of a state of emergency allows staff to take additional measures to ensure the City of Vancouver has the resources needed to maintain essential services and meet the demands of other agencies, including Vancouver Coastal Health.
The city said it has also created a dedicated coronavirus task force led by Vancouver Fire Chief Darrell Reid, who will report directly to City Manager Sadhu Johnston.
“Our teams have been doing phenomenal work to combat COVID-19 and protect the people of the city of Vancouver,” said Johnston. “These extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.”